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Best Lighthouses on the Cape and Islands

We always get asked where the best lighthouses on the Cape and Islands are, so we decided to put together a list of some of our favorites! Did we miss any? Leave a comment below!

  • Chatham Lighthouse (Chatham) - originally built in 1808, standing at 48 feet tall, the Chatham Lighthouse's original purpose was to emit light to prevent ships from hitting the sharp rock on the coastline of Nantucket Sound. It was rumored that the coastline of Cape Cod had over 3,500 shipwrecks, so Chatham Lighthouse was constructed to save cargo and lives. It remained functional through World War II. Come tour Chatham Lighthouse on Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm during the summer! 

Chatham Lighthouse

Photo by @markroutt

  • Nobska Lighthouse (Woods Hole) - in 1829, the first lighthouse was built at the confluence of Vineyard and Nantucket Sound. The lighthouse was operated by the U.S/Lighthouse Services until 1939 when it merged with the U.S. Coast Guard. The last civilian lightkeeper retired in 1972 when the lighthouse became automated. The last commander to live at Nobska Lighthouse moved out in 2013 due to determining the living quarters needed too much work. Since then, the Town of Falmouth and the Friends of Nobska Light have worked hard to restore and maintain the beautiful historic property. Nobska Lighthouse is open to visitors from dawn to dusk! 

Nobska Lighthouse

Photo by @friendsofnobskalight

  • Race Point Lighthouse (Provincetown) - first illuminated in 1816, Race Point Lighthouse stands at 45 feet tall. The original tower featured one of the earliest rotating beacons, which distinguished it from other Lighthouses on Cape Cod. The American Lighthouse Foundation modernized the keeper's house and now is available for overnight stays. Race Point Light is open for tours on the first and third Saturdays from June to October!  

Race Point Lighthouse

Photo by @icplacidphotography

  • Nauset Lighthouse (Eastham) - as seen on the Cape Cod Potato Chip bag, the iconic red and white striped lighthouse does exist! What is now known as Nauset Lighthouse, once replaced the Three Sister Lighthouses. It was painted red to be more visible to fishermen during the day. Today the tower flashes five seconds of white light and five seconds of red light. Schedule a tour on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer!  

Nauset Lighthouse

Photo by @jrgreenbaum

  • Three Sisters Lighthouse (Eastham) - three 15-foot towers coined their name, "Three Sisters" because from the sea they appeared as women in white dresses and black hats. The towers have been moved around due to the Cape Cod shores changing quickly. The Lighthouses were sold and relocated in 1920 to Cable Road, where they can be visited today! 

Three Sisters Lighthouse

Photo by @lastisle_travels

  • Highland Lighthouse (Truro) - Highland Lighthouse was Cape Cod's first lighthouse! It was commissioned by George Washington in 1797 and was the 20th light station in the United States. It currently stands at 66 feet tall, where the keeper's house now functions as a gift shop and museum. 

Highland Lighthouse

Photo by @capeclasp

  • Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse (Falmouth) - originally known as Pocasset Ledge, what is now known as Cleveland Ledge did not get its current name until President Grover Cleveland named it his favorite fishing spot. The lighthouse stands approximately 2 miles offshore and it helped navigation through the Cape Cod Canal. It had a two-story keepers house, with a cylindrical 50-foot tower painted white to help stand out from the background. The concrete structure has survived many storms and hurricanes, and is still standing today! 

Cleveland Ledge

Photo by @knockabout_travel

  • Wings Neck Lighthouse (Pocasset) - first constructed in 1849, the lighthouse was built to warn ships traveling at night through Buzzards Bay, Wareham, and Sandwich. The lighthouse now serves a different purpose, as the keeper's cottage has been fully renovated and now is available for weekly rentals all year round! The cottage sleeps up to 8 people. Enjoy a private beach along with access to the lighthouse! 

Wings Neck Lighthouse

Photo by @beneatontravels

  • Edgartown Lighthouse (Edgartown) - built in 1828 on a small man-made island in the Edgartown Harbor. The island sits on one tide coming from Boston and another from Rhode Island. For the first year, the only way to get to the light was by boat until a footbridge was built. Since then, a beach has formed around the lighthouse. The original structure was destroyed in a hurricane in 1938, however, it was replaced in 1981. 

Edgartown Lighthouse

Photo by @jmontesphotography

  • Brant Point Lighthouse (Nantucket) - for those arriving to Nantucket via ferry, Brant Point Lighthouse is an iconic sighting that welcomes visitors to the island. Standing only 26 feet tall, it is America's second-oldest lighthouse. Its red light flashes every 4 seconds and can be seen 10 miles out. Today, Brant Point Lighthouse now stands only for our viewing pleasure. 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Photo by @cmundychicago

  • Sankaty Lighthouse (Nantucket) - deriving from the Wampanoags word, "sankoty" meaning highland, the brick, and granite structure stands at 70 feet tall, 158 feet above sea level, and flashes every 7.5 seconds. The light is visible for 25 miles at sea and has been active for more than 160 years. Although the tower is not open to the public, visitors can explore the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Sankaty Lighthouse

Photo by @minipropellers

  • East Chop Lighthouse (Oak Bluffs) - in 1875, Congress approved the construction of East Chop Lighthouse. It was painted white at first, but in the 1880s transitioned to a reddish-brown color and became known as the "Chocolate Lighthouse". It has since transitioned back to white as the dark color was causing excessive heat damage to the tower. East Chop Lighthouse is open for sunsets on Sunday evenings during the summer!

East Chop Lighthouse

Photo by @theoakbluffsinn

    1 comment

    • GREAT lighthouse guide. One of my favorite things about the Cape. Photos and stories of each are well done👍🏻

      Paul Mecca

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